Santa Cruz musician Ginny Mitchell will celebrate her legendary career at Michael’s on Main

If you think about birthdays too much, they can seem pretty arbitrary — let’s face it, our screaming, wrinkled debut wasn’t anyone’s best day. For adults, the celebration of this date tends to be more a way to mark time and sometimes obtain gifts than a meaningful occasion.

But for Ginny Mitchell, this birthday is different. For one thing, the Santa Cruz singer-songwriter will be doing a throwback birthday show at Michaels on Main on Friday, March 18. She will play songs from all phases of her career, which spanned folk and rock, country and bluegrass, jazz and swing, with many genre combinations along the way. And she brings a host of star local musicians to the stage for this retrospective, including AJ Lee, Patti Maxine, Lisa Pollack (aka Lisa P), Steve Palazzo, Daniel Thomas, Katethe Hostetter, Sharon Allen, Jimmy Norris and Matt Bohn. You could say this show is as much a celebration of her bond with those friends as it is of Mitchell herself — and in some cases, they go way back.

“Steve Palazzo and I went to high school together at Santa Cruz High,” says Mitchell. “I taught her her first D chord. We toured together in the 80s. And I have a picture of me and Patti when we did that little gig, I was all 17, 18 – we we were just babies, singing at the Poet and Patriot.

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Of course, Mitchell has only formed a bond more recently with younger players, like Lee. She is overwhelmed by Lee’s talent and remembers someone like Alison Krauss, who played on Mitchell’s first CD, wild rosein 1993. And she thinks mainstream success is in Lee’s future.

“My prediction is that AJ Lee is going to break through, like Sarah Evans broke through, like Molly Tuttle is breaking through,” she says. “There’s something I recognize in AJ that I haven’t seen in others. She’s got it. Either way, she’s got it.

Even Mitchell herself is kind of blown away by the group that came together for this show.

“We had a rehearsal last night, and I sat there and looked around, and I thought, ‘These people are so amazing,'” she says.

This birthday party is also significant because it comes at a time when Mitchell is feeling a creative resurgence. The past decade has seen dark days – she and her husband Marty Collins had to close their innovative production studio, the Digital Media Factory in 2013, after Collins – a two-time cancer survivor at the time – suffered a medical disaster in 2012 during what was to be a routine operation. In the aftermath, he was put on a ventilator and is not expected to survive. But he defied odds for several years and even returned home and regained his ability to breathe without a ventilator. However, he passed away in 2016.

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It took years for Mitchell to get to a place where she felt she could be creative again. It was her siblings who encouraged her to return to performing and writing.

“I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t have the energy for that,” she recalls. “But I started playing music with different friends of mine. I realized I’d been charged. It was like, ‘I remember that feeling.’ Music just brought me back to life. It’s always been that way for me, since I was a kid. But this time, as an adult, that was it.

Now she’s writing and recording songs again and is ready to decide what’s next.

“It just takes a bit of time to heal a bit,” she says. “I found myself in a place where I can really look to the future. It’s the first time in my life, really, where I’ve been like, ‘Okay, well, what am I going to do? Where am I going now? »

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Ginny Mitchell’s birthday party will be Friday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Michael’s on Main, 2591 South Main St., Soquel. The $50 ticket includes dinner and the show. For tickets, go to michaelsonmainmusic.com.

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